The ideal resolution to a car accident injury claim is to receive an insurance settlement. Signing an offer for a settlement gets you the money you need to pay your medical bills, make up for missed work, and cover accident expenses without having to engage in a lengthy court battle.
With that said, the one thing every car accident victim in Florida should know about settlements is that they are all but final. Once you sign, it is nearly — if not completely — impossible to later turn around and demand more money from your insurer.
Because of this risk, it is incredibly important to know all of your legal rights and to have a 100% certain assessment of all of your damages and costs. An experienced car accident attorney in Florida can keep you informed of all legal rights and favorable strategies available to you when you are seeking a car accident settlement.
An attorney will also work with professionals in economic and medical circles to assess all of your accident-related losses, both past and future, with certainty. Getting an accurate estimate of your damages with the help of professionals prevents a scenario where you later realize that your costs were more than you initially assumed. Since some medical conditions can require surgery or therapy years later, knowing what these costs might be before you sign a settlement agreement is critical.
You can start the process of estimating your full damages and strategizing your case during a free, no-obligation case review with an experienced Florida car accident lawyer.
Call (800) 916-8108 now or contact us online to schedule your free appointment today.
What Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance Does and Does Not Cover
Florida is a “no-fault” state, meaning that you are going to be filing with your own Personal Injury Protection (PIP) provider after most accidents that cause minor injuries or property damage. Florida law requires you to carry $10,000 worth of personal injury protection coverage if you own a registered vehicle.
A PIP policy pays for the costs of your own injuries in the event of a car accident. Your PIP policy can also potentially cover your passengers riding with you at the time of the accident if they do not have their own PIP coverage. If you are injured in an accident where you are not driving — such as if you were a passenger or a pedestrian — then your PIP policy can still provide coverage under most circumstances.
While these traits may make PIP policies seem flexible, they have relatively low coverage limits compared to most bodily injury liability (BIL) policies.
A PIP policy usually covers:
- 80% of your medical bills up to $10,000
- 60% of your lost wages and payment for domestic services you can’t provide while you recover, up to $10,000
- Up to $5,000 in funeral and burial costs if the PIP policyholder dies from their injuries
Components missing that are typically covered by other policies (like BIL) include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- The remaining 20% of medical costs and 40% of lost wages
- Additional coverage for medical costs beyond $10,000
Because these benefits can feel like they are sorely missing from your Florida car accident insurance settlement, you may need to look to other forms of insurance to pay for your total losses. However, it should be noted that PIP always pays first, up to its limits, before another policy pays for any remaining benefits.
Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) Coverage
Unlike many other states, Florida does not require drivers to carry third-party bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage. This type of insurance policy is used to pay for the costs of injuries you cause when you are at-fault for an accident.
Some drivers may choose to purchase a BIL policy voluntarily. Most commercial vehicles are required to carry it under Florida law (F.S. §324.021).
Accident victims are entitled to seek a third-party BIL claim if they meet the “serious injury” threshold as defined in F.S. §627.737.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage
A Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) policy covers you in the event that you are hit by an at-fault driver who does not possess the insurance needed to cover all of your costs.
If you have a qualifying serious injury, UM/UIM insurance pays in the event that the other drivers do not have the coverage you would normally access.
Having one of these policies is especially important in Florida because non-commercial drivers are not required to have third-party BIL insurance.
A “Medpay” or medical payments policy offers set amounts of coverage for certain injuries. It pays after your PIP coverage but before other policies. For instance, if your accident cost $10,000 in medical bills, your PIP policy would only pay $8,000 (80%) while your Medpay would pay up to its limit to help cover the remaining $2,000 balance.
Medpay has many coverage limits but is relatively cheap, so it can be a good idea to supplement your normal health insurance with a Medpay policy.
Why Insurers May Reduce Your Settlement Amount or Deny Your Claim
There are many tactics insurers use to reduce the value of your Florida car accident insurance settlement. One strategy is to argue that not all of your medical costs were necessary to treat your injuries. Your insurer may also argue that some of your medical costs were the result of a previously existing condition, not the crash.
Insurers may also selectively ignore future expenses. A major injury that required surgery has set costs that are already accounted for, but it may also require future surgery or rehabilitative therapy.
Some policies, such as Medpay, may not cover you at all unless the insurer agrees that your situation was an “emergency”.
When seeking a BIL claim, the insurer could allege that you were partially or fully at fault for your accident. Florida’s pure comparative fault law (F.S. §768.81) reduces the value of your claim by the percentage of fault you had. So if you were deemed 20% at fault in an incident where you had a $100,000 value claim, then the insurer can reduce the value to $80,000 to account for your supposed contributed fault.
Hire a Florida Car Accident Attorney to Seek the Full Value of Your Settlement
Insurers will do anything they can to reduce your claim’s value and make a bigger profit off their policyholder’s premiums. You deserve to get all the help you need to assess every dollar of expense from your accident and seek the highest amount of compensation possible under Florida law.
Speak with experienced car accident lawyers in Florida to get guidance that can help you avoid signing a settlement far lower than what you could be getting.
Steinger, Greene & Feiner will never charge you for your initial appointment, and there’s no obligation to work with us after the consultation. We also charge you nothing unless we recover money for your injuries — that’s our No Fee Guarantee!
Call (800) 916-8108 or contact us online to schedule your free appointment now.